Dishing on Divergent: The Film

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**Contains spoilers—if you haven’t seen the movie yet,

you may want to stay away**

**For real, you’ve been warned! Spoilers up ahead!**

 

I may have been harsh on Allegiant, but I am pleased to announce that I thoroughly enjoyed the film version of Veronica Roth’s Divergent novel. After reading the book twice and loving it just as much the second time around, I had high hopes for this film.

When I saw that Shailene Woodley and Theo James were chosen as the lead characters, Tris and Four, I was a bit skeptical. They weren’t quite what I had pictured in my head. According to the book, Tris is supposed to be petite and blonde—compact so that Four can carry her all over the place! Her size makes her seem more vulnerable and weak, so her rise to the top of the leader board trisandfouris more impressive. Since Shailene isn’t a tiny girl (she’s 5’8”—tall for a lot of Hollywood actresses), I was worried about how she would look with Theo James on screen. But my feelings changed as I watched the film. Shailene became Tris for me, and I liked that she’s a healthy, normal looking girl. Theo’s soft voice was perfection. He was the perfect amount of brooding, mysteriousness, and protectiveness. The audience certainly seemed to think so, too—as there were several catcalls and giggles of delight when he removed his shirt to reveal his tattoos!

Other Things I Liked About the Film:

  • I thought the film did a great job of explaining how the society was set up and how each of the factions function. My husband hasn’t read the book, but he could understand the story. This is different from The Hunger Games, where he had lots of questions about how things work afterwards.
  • I also enjoyed the overall setting of the film. The dilapidated Chicago skyline was cool to see, as was the incredible fence built around the city. It’s not how I had imagined the fence looking, but the sheer magnitude was impressive. If I saw a fence like that, I would certainly be curious about what was on the outside. The Dauntless Pit was pretty cool too. I pictured it a bit more natural and rocky looking, but the film version probably makes more sense since it’s inside a building, right?ericormacklemore
  • I had a little crush on Eric as soon as he appeared on screen—odd, because he’s Four’s rival and not a very nice person—but I loved his Macklemore look and cool voice! (Don’t worry–I’m still Team Theo!) The cast in general was great—I liked Zoë Kravitz’s tough-girl persona for Christina, and I liked seeing Tony Goldwyn (aka Fitz from Scandal) in another role. Ashley Judd made a great mother for Tris, and Maggie Q was a perfect Tori.
  • Oh, and the music—the music was excellent. Every time an Ellie Goulding song came on, I just thought, “Yes, this is perfect.” I’m kind of thinking about purchasing the soundtrack…or maybe an Ellie Goulding CD!
  • The feeling and tone of the film was spot on. It was exciting—it was romantic—it was fast-paced. I sat in my chair and smiled for most of the film, but I also teared up when Tris and Caleb decided to leave their parents and Abnegation (even though I knew it was going to happen!), and I was on the edge of my seat whenever people had to jump on or off the trains (they were moving a lot faster than I imagined in the book!).

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes:

Yes, there were plenty of changes between the book and the film version. jeaninematthewsKate Winslet’s character Jeanine Matthews certainly got a lot more screen time and lines than the character in the book does. This especially comes into play at the end of the film when Tris slams a knife through her hand. That seemed like a pretty major change to me. However, it certainly sets Jeanine up as the villain (perhaps pounded that into our heads too much…), and the audience fully understands how much Erudite wants to keep the faction system and be the leaders.

Besides Will, Al, Christina, and Peter, the other initiates weren’t really given names. Edward is listed in the cast of Divergent on IMDB, but I didn’t really notice anyone being called Edward in the film. Also, Edward doesn’t end up with a fork in the eye in the film. And what about Zeke, Uriah, Marlene, Lynn, Cara, Susan, and the rest of the gang? Will they appear in Insurgent, or has the cast been trimmed down?

The Take Away

Go see Divergent! Books are always changed when adapted to film—but this one was done well. It kept the integrity of the film and the cast does a superb job with the characters we’ve all grown to love so much.

How about for you?  Does Divergent get a yay or nay?

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No Love for Allegiant

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****Spoilers****

****Stay away if you haven’t read Allegiant and plan on reading it someday!****

****For real!  Scroll past if you haven’t read it yet!****

This may come as a surprise considering how highly I’ve spoken of Veronica Roth’s Divergent and Insurgent, but I did not love Allegiant.  Gasp!  How could that be?!  I’ve been waiting to read this novel for a long time and it did not live up to my expectations.  Here are some issues I had with the book:

  1. The tone of the book never felt right.  It did not have the energized feeling that the previous books had.  I think this had something to do with the switching narratorsDivergent and Insurgent are both written from Beatrice’s point of view.  In Allegiant, Tris and Tobias take turns with the chapters.  I found myself constantly going back to the chapter heading to see whose point of view I was reading from.  This shows me that the character’s individual voices were not flushed out.  Perhaps the ending of the novel is the reason why this had to be done, but it just didn’t work for me.
  2. Four’s character became a ninny.  I raved about Four in my literary crush post.  I was drawn to his quiet strength, ability to lead, and composure under pressure.  But in Allegiant, he immediately believes he is “damaged goods” and loses sight of the amazing relationship he has with Tris.  Instead of actively figuring out what to do next or how to create a better life for himself and Tris now that they know the truth, he mopes around the compound feeling sorry for himself, neglecting his friends.  I lost some respect for his character.
  3. The ebb and flow of the book was dullDivergent was thrilling because the world Roth created was so fascinating.  I wanted to know about the factions and how they worked.  I was enthralled by the initiates’ daily lives.  I loved watching the relationship blossom between Tris and Four.  The ending was suspenseful and I wanted to know what would happen in the next novel.  In Insurgent, a war kept me eagerly turning the pages to see what would happen next.  It was so exciting, and at times, heartbreaking.  I had high hopes for Allegiant—what would life be like outside the fence?  What adventure would Tris and Four experience next?  Well, it was…an old airport full of scientists…a compound full of fluorescent lights…people brainwashed into believing genetic purity was what would solve all the Earth’s problems.  Tris, Four, Christina, Cara, Uriah, Peter, and Caleb spend their days wandering around the compound, unsure of what to do with their time.  They don’t seem to communicate much with each other, and their group falls apart.  The big secret outside the fence was a huge disappointment.
  4. I felt a lack of emotion when the main character died.  Considering my love for Divergent and Insurgent, I should be pretty attached to Tris, right?  I admire her bravery, ability to read people’s intentions, and willingness to make hard decisions.  I should have cried, or at least teared up when Tris is shot and dies.  Maybe I felt a lack of emotion because I didn’t really believe that she had died, but I don’t think that’s it.  I was assuming that someone important would die in this novel.  Although, I thought that it was going to be Four.  I actually think Roth was brave in killing off her main character.  Collins doesn’t kill off Katniss; Rowling doesn’t kill off Harry; clearly, Roth took a chance here.  But it makes sense—with all the dangerous things the characters do, it makes sense for someone to die.   It’s like in movies when there’s a shootout and no one ever gets shot.  How can they release so many bullets without hitting anyone?  Roth, rather boldly, killed off her money maker!  In response to reader outcry, Veronica Roth blogged, “In each book [Tris] tried to emulate her parents’ sacrifice, and in each book she didn’t seem to understand what that sacrifice really was, until Allegiant. And it’s only in Allegiant, when she had a strong sense of identity, when she had a keen understanding of what she (and her parents) believed about selflessness, that her journey was over.”  This explanation makes senses to me, but why wasn’t I more upset about the loss of Tris’s character?  Other readers were so upset by it that they petitioned to have Allegiant rewritten!  It doesn’t seem like the author who wrote Divergent was the same author who wrote Allegiant.  I was more saddened by Al’s death than by Beatrice’s.  Something is wrong there.

While Divergent and Insurgent will continue to be two of my favorite reads, Allegiant will, unfortunately, not be on the list with them.  Ho hum…what a disappointment.  

For you other Divergent fans out there, what did you think of Allegiant?

Entry #15 – Re-read:

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Entry #15 – Re-read:  This is a book that you have read more than once.

As an English teacher, I’ve re-read my fair share of books.  I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve read Romeo & Juliet, The Outsiders, The Miracle Worker, or Holes.  When it comes to reading for pleasure rather than for lesson planning, I tend to shy away from re-reading.  There are so many books I want to read that I don’t have time to re-read.  I don’t have the tattered book that I carry with me everywhere and read once a year.  Despite this, I was surprised at the growing list of books that I have re-read.

rereadbooks1. The China Garden by Liz Berry……Read 5 times

This title is always my response when I’m asked what my favorite book is.  I’ll talk about it more in a later post.  All you need to know now is that it’s wonderful…and I kind of want to re-read it again soon!

2. The Giver by Lois Lowry……….Read 4 times

This is a Young Adult classic.  I used it with my seventh graders last year, but I’ve also read it plenty of times on my own.  I love the world of “sameness” that Lowry has created and Jonah’s realization that his world is not as perfect as he once thought.  It’s the original dystopian novel.

3. The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger………….Read 2 times

Don’t we all wish we could travel through time?  In Niffenegger’s novel, she shows readers a darker side to time travel through the romance of Henry and Clare.  Cool fact: Niffenegger is not only a talented writer (she wrote the creepy novel Her Fearful Symmetry, too), but she’s also an artist.  She creates stories and artwork for visual and graphic novels.  See some of her work for the story Raven Girl here.

4. Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth…Read 2 times

It should be no surprise from my previous posts that I adored Divergent and Insurgent.  I took a break from reading during November to focus on my NaNoWriMo novel, but I wasn’t very good at staying away from books!  I told myself, “I’ll just re-read Insurgent so I’ll be ready to read Allegiant…” and then I decided I might as well re-read Divergent too!  I was pleased to discover they were just as good as I had remembered.

5. The Terrorist by Caroline B. Cooney……………Read 2 times

Cooney was my favorite author as a teen.  I read The Face on The Milk Carton and became hooked on Cooney’s ability to create believable teen characters who were going through crazy things like discovering they had been kidnapped, or might have unleashed smallpox on the world from an old scab in a book, or traveled back in time.  Her books were short and could be read quickly.  I always made a beeline for the “C” shelf at Barnes & Noble, eager to pick out another one of her novels.  Even as an adult, I wander over to the shelf to find out if Cooney has written anything new.  I recently re-read The Terrorist on my Kindle Fire.  Even though the book was published in 1997, the subject matter (a kid from an international school in London is killed by a bomb) still feels relevant.

How about you?  What books do you find yourself re-reading?